Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 November 1994



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 November 1994

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Parliamentary Record 6


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 23 November 1994 I received this latest correspondence at the end o f last week. I have not had an opportunity to write to the Work Health Authority. I raise this matter in debate today because a number o f members have raised concerns about hazardous chemicals. Darwin City Council was very supportive in that it indicated that it was prepared to organise and pick up the cost of collecting hazardous chemicals. I am sure many members have chemicals in their homes that they do not know quite what to do with. The last thing anybody would want would be for people to put these substances in a wheelie bin for disposal at the council dump. The chemicals would leach into the wetlands area and that could be quite damaging. If Darwin City Council is prepared to support it in that way, I believe the hazardous waste site at Hidden Valley would be the appropriate place for those chemicals and that the W ork Health Authority would be the appropriate authority to supervise their storage. I am aware that the minister is to reply to this debate. I admit that I have not had an opportunity to pursue this further with the Work Health Authority. He may have to take the matter on notice. However, I mention it now because it was raised earlier in the debate. M r Speaker, I seek leave to table the correspondence. Leave granted. M r BAILEY: It may be that the discussions between the Work Health Authority and Darwin City Council were at too low an officer level for a decision to be made. Hopefully, the minister will be able to provide some further information. There are 2 other aspects of child safety that I wish to raise. Members would be aware o f a couple o f very unfortunate incidents in Darwin schools in recent years involving sexual abuse by teachers. I do not wish to refer to any individual case because I am aware that at least one is still before the courts. What I am concerned about is 2 issues that arise from the reporting o f these sexual abuse cases and the subsequent court cases. Firstly, there did not appear to be any systematic screening or assessment o f teachers for any prior history or criminal record relating to child abuse or sexual abuse. I am aware o f debates that have taken place in this House. In fact, I have raised the issue previously myself. There are no clear guidelines or procedures within schools for dealing with allegations or reports by teachers, parents or students o f inappropriate behaviour by teachers. Those cases came to light some time ago and it is my understanding that, even today, there are no clear, written departmental guidelines on how schools are to deal with critical incidents such as child abuse. I am aware that some schools, particularly those that have been involved in some o f these incidents, have actually written their own critical incident guidelines. However, the department did not have and still does not have clear guidelines on how schools should deal with reports o f child sexual abuse. I am aware that there is compulsory reporting at a certain level o f belief that something has happened, but it is quite clear that, in at least one o f the cases, a number o f reports appear to have been made over many years yet were not dealt with. Many o f those reports were compiled at quite low levels and the school and the department did not have any clear procedures in place to deal with the issues raised. It is my understanding that that continues to be the case. 1819

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